“Our Day”

IMG_20140209_154028485 “God’s Love” by Callie

Lately I have had what I refer to as “wedding brain”. With just a little over four months until the big day, I have a constant stream of plans and ideas zig-zagging through my mind. I have also spent the past week fretting over the reception venue which has changed three times. (Problem resolved and all is well on that front I’m glad to say).

But today I had to ground myself a little. In a constant flurry of Ebay searches and Pinterest oogling, I brought myself back to the real reason this wedding is happening. LOVE. Now don’t think that I had forgotten that all important notion but I have allowed myself so much stress and worry over the little and not so little things that I had to pull myself back a little and just relax.

Our wedding will not be a huge event but it will be special. As special as the man I am going to marry. Because in the end it’s all about the marriage, not the wedding. Can I rant for just a minute and say how annoyed I get when people say that the wedding is all about the bride? I get even more frustrated when I hear a bride herself say that this is her day. I worry that those types of opinions won’t get your very far in the reality of what marriage really is.

This will be OUR day. Mine, Greg’s, Callie’s, with our families and friends and God as the focus. I have said it here before…God has to be the center of your relationship. Likewise, He will be the center of our wedding ceremony. It’s not solely about the bride or the groom but the two of them together with the One who taught them to love in the first place. He will not be forgotten in my vows. He will be thanked and praised and everyone will know that He is the reason I am standing there taking my vows with the man that He brought into my life through a carefully orchestrated sequence of events.

LOVE is what it is all about. We love because He first loved us. God is LOVE .How else can we explain this wonderful, amazing feeling? It wasn’t man-made. It was given to us and it is our choice to accept it. God’s own love for us is unending and immeasurable. How can we possibly love one another without first allowing God’s love to dwell within us? It’s yours for the taking, and it can make all your relationships so much stronger if you allow it to be the center of those relationships. If you love God more than each other, then you can love each other even more 🙂

“Two Years”

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WordPress just informed me that today is my two year anniversary with them. Two years of being a blogger. Never really thought that was something I would be. If you had told me that, I would have laughed. Two years….

Two years ago, I jumped into the blogging world not knowing what I was doing really. All I knew was that my demons were chasing me and I needed a way to bring something positive to my life through photography and writing. Last January, I dreaded the turning of the calendar. I didn’t want to see that month come into focus because two years ago, it had been the worst month of my life thus far. But I survived it.

This year, I didn’t even really think about it. My transformation continues and this time around it didnt seem so bad. (So far…the month is only half over!) The phasing out of anxiety isn’t a quick process by any means. I’m sorry to say that for those who are going through it but it’s an honest truth. If I were to put a different spin on it though, instead of calling it a “phasing-out” process, I could say that the “transformation” God is making in my life isn’t a quick process. More so, it has been the beginning of a new relationship. That’s really what it’s all been about..and any good relationship takes time to build a solid foundation.

Just as when you meet someone for the first time and you start dating, you get to know that person. You learn as much as you can about them and you want to spend as much time with them as possible. You begin to like them more and more because of how they make you feel. You feel warm and fuzzy inside and begin to feel yourself falling in love. You can’t imagine your life without this person and feel like a part of you that has been missing for so long is now making you whole. You see your future together and you commit your life to theirs.

I have been lucky enough to have all of that happen to me and to fall in love (and recently become engaged to) a wonderful man that God brought into my life. Even better news is that I can have all of that through a relationship with Christ also. Although I already knew who God was, I didn’t begin to fully know Him until this totally new relationship began two years ago. As I leaned on Him more and more to get through the days that were dragging me down, I began to crave more of Him. I wanted to know more. I prayed, read scriptures, listened to worship music and began to live my life more as He would want me to. I still have a lot of work to do, but I have changed in so many ways.

Open your heart today and allow yourself to have that relationship with Him. No matter where you are in your life or in your walk, it’s never too late. It may take you two months or two years but trust during that time that God is working on you and keep focused on Him and how He is changing your life for the better.

 

“You Deserve It”

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You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16)

The night before last I went for a walk/run after dinner to burn off some anxious energy. I had had a long day at work and needed the therapy. I was gone around thirty minutes and when I came home Callie told me she had a surprise for me inside. She had washed the dishes, cleaned the doors and windows and cleaned the house up a bit. It was very sweet and thoughtful thing to do. I told her how much I appreciated it and she said “Well, you deserve it!” I had to smile because she had never said that to me. But then I had to wonder why she felt that way. I had been a bit irritable earlier because I was anxious and hungry. She knew this. But just as I forgive her ever-changing moods, she forgives mine. Why? Because she loves me and I love her.

Greg has said those same words to me as long as I have known him. Whenever he does something sweet or kind and I thank him, he says “You deserve it!” I know he has said that to me a thousand times in the last three years and yet it still is hard for me to accept at times. He knows my life has not been perfect. He knows I try so hard not to worry and to overcome so many things on a daily basis. But he still thinks I am deserving of all he has to offer. Why? Because he knows how much I love him and he loves me the same.

The dictionary describes the word deserve as “to be worthy of, qualified for, or have a claim to reward”. That sneaky little word in that description always trips me up: worthy. If I deserve something, does it mean I am worthy of it? I struggle with that quite often. Past mistakes and flaws always seem to rise to the forefront when I hear that word.

The same doubt sometimes creeps into my mind even with my relationship with God. I am always surprised when He answers my prayers. I know that sounds ridiculous and it is not because I don’t believe He is capable or responsible for the outcome. It is because I sometimes wonder why He would choose to listen to me and my needs when I haven’t always led my life in a way that is pleasing to Him. I don’t always feel worthy or deserving of what He gives to me in return for what little I give to Him. But isn’t that what John 3:16 is all about? “For God so loved the world….”

He loves us despite our mistakes. I love this quote from one of my favorite Proverbs 31 Ministries speakers, Micca Campbell:

“Before we were born, God knew all about us. He knew what we would fear, the troubles we would face, and the mistakes we would make. Yet, He chose to love us anyway.”

God knows that I try so hard not to worry and He knows that I am making a daily effort to give full control to Him. He too, knows of my ever-changing moods. He wants me to understand that all He has to offer is before me for the taking. I just don’t always see it. But He forgives me for my flaws. Why? Because He loves me and I owe everything to Him.

 

“God Knew”

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Three years ago, God knew what condition my heart was in. He knew that it had been battered and bruised. He knew it had been given to the wrong person many times over and always returned in tiny little pieces. He knew not to answer my prayers…the ones that begged Him to please let them love me back.

Three years ago, God lined up the right road, the right friend, the absolute perfect timing for a phone call, the right emotions and the exact moment for me to find the one He had been saving for me. He knew I would need someone who could accept a single mom and an adorable freckle-face into his life. Someone who could care for a child who wasn’t his own.

Three years ago (and many before that, no doubt) God knew that I was going to face one of the hardest times in my life…anxiety, fear, depression. He knew that I was going to need someone with a gentle hand and a strong heart.  A heart big enough to love me the way I needed to be loved and brave enough to see past the anguish I was dealing with and still see someone he loved. Someone to hold my hand in church and pray with me as well as for me.

Three years ago, God knew that the plan He had started many years before would take shape. That every single closed door, fallen tear, disappointment and chance that never got taken was actually redirecting me down the right road. A broken road that God himself was blessing all along.

Three years ago today, I met someone I truly call my best friend. I no longer question why God let my heart break so many times. It was all a part of His grand design. Love is no longer that thing people talk about, sing about and write about that I just don’t “get”.

Three years ago, it became clear to me why love is patient and kind….why love is never boastful or conceited, rude or selfish….why it does not take offense and is not resentful…why it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes…and why it never fails.

Never give up on the hope that God is planning someone just for you : )

“Be Mine”

love1Open your hearts to the love God instills . . . God loves you tenderly. What He gives you is not to be kept under lock and key, but to be shared. –Mother Teresa

BE MINE…chances are you will hear or see these two words everywhere you look today. On cards, candy hearts, balloons and boxes of yummy chocolate. Someone is longing for you to allow yourself to be theirs. To love you and be loved by you. But let’s not forget the One who has longed for you to be His since the very beginning. Without Him we would not know what love is. When your heart is filled with affection and overwhelming emotion to the point where it fills as if it might burst, remember where that love originated.

He taught us that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

He commanded that we “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 34-35) And to “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14)

He assures us that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us” (John 4:18-19)

And let us never forget that “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

No matter what your struggles are today, never forget that you are loved and the strongest love of all is the one that comes from above. It is always available, never-ending and given freely without question. With it comes, mercy, grace and a peace beyond compare.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

“My Book”

God has written every page of your life in His book ~ Psalm 139:16

I was thinking about this verse last week. Then a couple of nights ago, Greg and I were talking to Callie about how she doesn’t need to try to mold herself into someone she’s not just to fit in with girls in her class. We told her that God made her special for a reason and there is no one else like her. (Of course, she argued with us that there must be a freckle-faced eleven year old named Callie who loves riding horses and has the same haircut that she does somewhere in this world….ah the tween years!) Anyway, we tried. I explained to her that her purpose and life were already planned out by God and that He had a book written just about her. She was surprised to hear that God had a whole book all about her. She seemed to think He didn’t consider her special enough. I tried to get my point across, as best I could , that she was indeed very special. I think it may have sunk in, just a little. At least I hope.

It is hard to imagine, even for adults at times, that God has already laid out the blueprint of our lives and it is unfolding daily. The story in my book may not always go as I have planned but I have to trust in the Author. There are chapters I would love to rip out and just forget that they existed. The ones that had pain and frustration written all over them. In those times I have to wonder why God wrote those into my book. But when I look back, as I turned each page, and the days passed, better things came along to ease the pain. A new chapter began.

There are pages I wish I could go back to and copy and paste into new pages. I had a couple of those over the weekend. Lazy, relaxing, fun days filled with love. Those moments are the ones I cherish and bookmark in my life. I “dog-ear” those pages so that I don’t forget how I felt and can turn back to them whenever I need to be reminded of the beauty that God scripted for that day.

Then there are the chapters that I wish Icould do over because of the mistakes I made. Those pages are where I took a bright red pen and crossed through God’s plan and obedience and penciled in how I thought the story should go. What a disaster those pages are. I regret them but they taught me a lesson. The best news is that all I have to do is ask and God will delete those messy pages, wipe them clean and I am forgiven.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful ~ Psalm 139:13-14 

“Choose Hope”

Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent ~Mignon McLaughlin
   
    Faith. Hope. Love. Three words we see quite often and try to live our lives by. I have always been drawn to the word faith. There is so much meaning behind it – the expectation of things unseen. Things only God can bring into being. Of course, love is an essential one as well. Without it, what do we have? We are drawn to it, give it, receive it and long for it from the time we are born.
     But today I choose HOPE. I don’t know why but that one word never stood out to me as much until yesterday when I read a quote that I came across.  I CHOOSE hope. We can have faith, have love, we can have hope but we have to choose it. It has to be a thought we aspire to each day. Today I choose hope over fear. Today I choose hope over negativity. Today I choose hope over stressful thoughts.
     The dictionary defines hope as “a feeling that something desirable is likely to happen”.  Choosing hope means that I am thinking positively. When I choose hope, I am saying to myself that I truly believe I can be completely free of what holds me down, holds me back and takes over my life. I am saying that along with my faith in God, I am hopeful also that he will allow good things to me. I am saying to myself that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is my life. The darkness of the tunnel is only temporary.
     If I choose to go through the day thinking things will never change, then they won’t. If I give hope a chance I am giving life a chance. A chance for it to be all that God intended it to be. Life shouldn’t be survived. It should be lived. There have been many days where I have just been surviving. It’s time to get back to the living part of life.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God – Psalm 42:11